Here’s my twisted tale of potty training a resistant child. There have been plenty of times in my life where I’ve been envious of other parents. I’ll readily admit it… the big house, the nice SUV, the extra cash to travel. Those things are great and amazing; so yea, I want them for my family.

But do you know what I envied more than anything else? I envied the ease with which some parents could get their kid to use the toilet.

Seriously! It got to the point where I thought if I could just make that ONE thing happen, the stars would align and peace would reign on the earth. Potty training a resistant child had become that big a deal in my house.

The Potty Wars

That’s what it feels like when you are in the midst of the potty wars. You’re hyper-focused on getting your child potty trained. It gets to the point where you feel like accomplishing that one goal will resolve every problem you’ve ever had.

At least, that’s the mentality I had when I began potty training a resistant child. Peter, my third child and first boy, is just the perfect blend of sassy, crazy and sweet. But oh my goodness is this child stubborn! Mule doesn’t even begin to describe it. I had no idea potty training little boys would be so challenging. You can imagine how well our initial attempts started out. (Spoiler alert, it didn’t go so well).

Once Peter reached the ripe old age of three-and-a-half I decided to push the issue, even though he had shown no interest whatsoever. I was ready to start potty training, so this was going to happen. I pulled out the potty chair, emblazoned with Lightening McQueen, hoping it would spark his interest. Nope. Nothing.

We tried giving him incentives… but candy, dinosaurs, cars, and even fruit (his favorite) didn’t catch his attention. He refused to engage in the entire potty training process, which is only a good thing if you want to constantly clean your carpets. I didn’t.  

After a week with little progress, Peter decided he was done. He started actively resisting. He wouldn’t even sit on the toilet. It was a constant struggle to get him to even take off his diaper. But I dutifully continued on like clockwork, because this was GOING TO HAPPEN. 

I Surrender!

Inside I knew what we were doing wasn’t working, but it didn’t really register in my brain until the Great Poopocolypse. Potty training a resistant child took a turn for the worst.

After that day, which is burned forever in my mind, I knew we couldn’t continue on like we had been. Are you scared? You should be.

I was busy cleaning the house when I walked down the hall and hit a wall of stench. Then I got my first glimpse – poop. Little bits smooshed into the carpet, and a naked little bum covered in poop, sitting playing with his trains outside the bathroom door. Initially, I was angry. I had JUST put him on the toilet a few minutes earlier. But I cooled my jets and said to myself, “It’s ok! He’s just a little boy. He’ll get it eventually.”

Then I rounded the corner and saw the bathroom. It was everywhere… on the toilet, flung on the wall, on the floor, and even on the walls of the shower. How is that even possible?? Everywhere! After swallowing back the vomit, I sat down and cried. How could I do this when he was so unwilling to be a part of it? I needed to reevaluate my tactics for potty training a resistant child.

Potty Training A Resistant Child On Their Terms

I knew right then and there that this power struggle couldn’t continue. So I did the hardest thing ever, I stepped back. We took a break from potty training. Even though I’d heard nothing but “wait, how old is he?” or “my son was potty trained when he was 18 months old!” I knew with complete clarity it was the absolute best thing for my family. If potty training a resistant child had taught me anything, It taught me that my son didn’t have to adhere to anyone else’s timeline. He would get it eventually when he was ready.

Taking a step back to regroup was the best thing I could’ve done. Instead of forcing potty training down his throat, we exposed him to the process gradually. We showed him books and T.V. shows featuring potty training, we even gave him a brand new potty that looked just like a miniature toilet to help him feel more comfortable with the whole situation.

Then one magical day he decided he was ready, all on his own. We went from constant struggles to him taking himself to the toilet – in just one day. He may still have the occasional accident, but he’s just a little boy, he’ll get it. 

The reality is, when potty training a resistant child, you’re going to have to accept that things will happen more on their terms than yours. And honestly, that’s okay. Sometimes we get so caught up in conforming to what people around us expect, that we forget to figure out what our kids really need. That’s my advice on potty training for you, let your child move at their own pace, on their own terms.

Learn from my mistake and save yourself from the Poopocolypse. You might avoid the potty wars altogether if you let your child take the lead. Potty training a resistant child doesn’t have to be a battle. Your little ones will show you when to potty train. It’ll be when they’re ready.